The headline of a report by New Orleans station WWLTV reveals that police are seeking three suspects in the beating of a couple on Saturday in the city’s French Quarter. But maybe a more accurate headline would be “NOPD blows chance to collar perps in beating.”
That seems to be the sense conveyed by a video report accompanying the article that shows a patrol car pulling over to the curb alongside a trio fitting the description, then pulling away several minutes later, its back seat still empty.
From the text of the article, we learn that one of the victims of the assault had two plates surgically implanted in his jaw Monday “after three men jumped him and a female friend.”
The attack happened on a relatively busy intersection in the French Quarter, Dauphine and Iberville, even at 6 a.m. on a Saturday. It’s across from a hotel and a restaurant and it’s surrounded by surveillance cameras.
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27-year-old Donnie Mehrtens, III, was walking a girl to her car Saturday morning. Surveillance video shows Donnie, wearing a neon green shirt, and the girl walking up Iberville Street, crossing the street. Then three men come from behind and punch the girl in the face, tackling Mehrtens to the ground.
‘He said let’s just keep walking. As soon as he said that, they jumped him, punched the girl in the face and jumped him. Next thing you know, he was on the ground and they stomped his face,’ his father, Donald Mehrtens, Jr., said outside of the hospital where his son was undergoing surgery Monday.
Mehrtens stumbles off on the video, and from a different angle, the surveillance video shows he and the girl are both clearly hurt.
The three young suspects ran off.
An update that seeks to whitewash the seeming dereliction of the officer in the patrol car suggests that he was “on his way off the clock at 7 a.m. and stopped because he was flagged down at the scene, not because he was dispatched.” Even so, he was summoned around 6 in the morning, meaning there was a full hour left before his shift ended. There should been plenty of time to arrests the suspects on suspicion and drive them to the station house to be interrogated. If nothing else, there would been ample time for the driver of the black-and-white to phone in a report of what he had encountered, but he didn’t do that either.
Remi Braden, a police spokeswoman, has released a statement reading:
The NOPD is currently retrieving surveillance video in its entirety from the area where this crime occurred. The woman who was with the victim told a lieutenant late this afternoon that an exchange of words earlier in the evening precipitated this incident. The NOPD continues to conduct interviews and investigate the entire matter.
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